Fabulous, fresh and fashionable, Kholoud Reda, known to her friends as Coco, has become the leading wedding and event planner in the region. Through her company, iplan, she has been flawlessly executing some of the most extravagant events the Middle East has ever seen. From elaborate Sohours in Cairo to lavish weddings in Beirut, there is nothing that Reda can’t pull off. As if that’s not enough, Reda, along with her sisters, manages Debi.R, one of Beirut’s most in demand boutiques. Even though it was hard to pin down this jetsetter, our very own Farida El Sayed got the chance to chat with the successful entrepreneur.
Although Reda’s world currently revolves around fashion events and high-profile functions, this ultimate It Girl had an unlikely start as a computer science major. “After graduating from the American University in Beirut, I worked in the computer science field for two years, before I came to the realisation that this field was not for me,” Reda recalls. At that point, she and her sisters decided to all follow their passion for fashion and design and pursue a range of fashion related courses, from styling to retail. After completing their fashion courses abroad, Reda and her sisters returned to their home town, Beirut, where they opened their boutique Debi.R, and went on to become regional tastemakers for all things fashion and style.
Alongside being busy with fashion courses and the eventual opening of Debi.R, Reda actually racked up 10 years of experience as a part-timer in the field of event planning, which she always loved. Establishing her own events company, iplan, therefore came naturally to her. Today, after being in the market for five years, iplan is credited for planning the most elaborate and creative events in Lebanon and across the region. From corporate events, themed parties, fashion events and even Sohours, Reda has a truly extensive portfolio of events. Nevertheless, weddings still hold a special place in her heart. “I love planning weddings the most!” she admits. “Since I’m into fashion, art and design, I’m able to fuse all my creative interests together when I’m creating a wedding,” she adds.
What sets Reda apart most from other wedding planners, is her insistence on making things very personal for the bride and groom. She explains, “Whatever the budget is, whatever the situation is, I try to create a story, I try to make the wedding a very personal experience that tells that story.” To do that flawlessly, Reda pays great attention to detail. “From the setup, to the flowers, all the way to the entertainment, everything is customised to fit into this story,” she explains.
One memorable wedding that stands out for Reda, is a Moroccan themed ceremony that she planned in Beirut two years ago. The wedding was outdoors, starting during the day and lasting all night. Having to provide quality entertainment and food for all that time, Reda came up with the unusual idea of creating an elaborate Moroccan souk. “We had approximately seven or eight shops featuring customised souvenirs from the bride and groom. People were walking around the souk and ‘shopping’, but without paying, of course! Guests really enjoyed picking their favourite memorabilia from the wedding!” says Reda. Although it took a lot of time and hard work, the wedding was so successful and entertaining that it was talked about for months.
Clearly, as far as wedding planners go, Reda is pretty daring and extravagant in her métier. Her own luxurious lifestyle provides plenty of inspiration for her day job. “Since I travel a lot, I am exposed to beautiful artists and beautiful people. I get most of my inspiration from that,” she explains. “For instance, I may be inspired by an elaborate table setting I see, or the background music in a fashion show that put me in a certain mood. Sometimes food inspires me too,” she adds.
Reda explains that a major trend taking the wedding industry by storm is the rich displays of food. “Diverse foods have to be on offer, with some clients insisting on having vegetarian and vegan stations,” says Reda. Another major trend for weddings is the incorporation of technology. “Creating beautiful visuals in a wedding has become increasingly imperative, which means a more frequent use of things like 3D mapping, holograms and visuals. We try to take advantage of all these new technologies,” Reda explains.
What with juggling both her boutique and her events planning company, it obviously can be quite a hectic feat to achieve the right balance. Reda credits her organisational skills for her ability to multitask successfully. “I have to be very organised, which is why I always set deadlines, timetables and schedules. You also have to delegate some things to others. You can’t do everything on your own,” she says.
Despite the challenges and the hectic work schedules, Reda finds her work very rewarding. For her, the most gratifying part of wedding planning is when the bride makes her entrance. “Every time I see a bride going down the stairs and I see that glow in her eyes, and that happiness, I immediately start crying. I see how happy she is at that moment and that is worth everything,” she explains emotionally.
Besides her amazing portfolio of satisfied and grateful clients, it is clear that Reda’s friendly and easygoing nature also plays a big part in her popularity as the ultimate go-to wedding planner today. Looking ahead, she has a full schedule of events to take care of. So, stay tuned for plenty of amazing iplan weddings and events coming soon near you, whether in Beirut, Qatar, Paris, Kuwait, Jordan or Egypt!